Fact checking

Chris Elliott’s Travel Troubleshooter column helps frustrated travelers get their due from travel industry bureaucracies. But the current column gets a little bit wrong:

    Here’s the scoop: Your original ticket was issued with several “fare basis,” or category of fares. Your outbound travel was booked in what United refers to as “W-class” of service and the return in “H-class” of service. Translation: On some flights you were in economy class; in others you were sitting in business class.

An airline fare basis is a set of letters and numbers that identify the particular fare, rules and all, that the traveler has booked. That fare is usually referred to by its first letter — in this case W and H. Most fares beginning with the same letter have alot in common, so it makes sense to generalize in this way.

But Chris Elliott is wrong about the problem being that some flights were in business class and some flights were in coach. W and H fares are both coach fares on United. H fares are upgradeable using miles — it is a generally more expensive fare.

The traveler may well have been upgraded on the segment booked as an H fare, but the problem wasn’t being seated in business class. The problem was the difference between two coach fares with different rules.

But he can slip a bit on the details if he gets results, I say!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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